Shulato #8

"Hurry! The Road to Tenkuuju"

Synopsis by Arcadia

Shulato and the group come across a village. It had once been full of people and life, but now it's little more than a ghost town. Lakshu finds a child's doll lying abandoned in the road, and it reminds her of how Tenkuukai is dying.

Mii flies in, carrying a fish (The fish is probably three times Mii's size, but if he can carry Lakshu, a single fish wouldn't be any problem). Shulato, suddenly realizes he's hungry and runs off to catch some fish. Lakshu doesn't know what he wants fish for, and is surprised to find out that he intends to eat them. "Humans sure live like barbarians," says Reiga.

Soon after Shulato disappears over the hill, they hear a scream. They run to investigate and find literally dozens of dead fish floating in the lake. If Tenkuukai has deteriorated this far, the human world must have, too. Huyga explains to Shulato that Tenkuukai and Earth are separate worlds, but are like two sides of a mirror. What happens in one world has a reflection in the other. If Tenkuukai is destroyed, it will take Earth with it. Now Shulato has two reasons to save Vishnu- not only to save Tenkuukai, but also to save Earth, where his family is.

Shulato wants to set off for Tenkuuju at once, but there's a problem. There is a barrier around the bottom of Tenkuuju, to keep enemies and monsters from climbing it. In order to open Heiseimon, the gate through the barrier, they have to go to the island of Shutentou. Each of the four temples on Shutentou- Genbuden, Seiryuuden, Byakkoden and Suzakuden- hold part of the key to opening the gate. There is a crystal sphere in each temple, and if all four are charged with Sohma, Heiseimon will open. Shulato complains that it's not as easy as it should be, and he and Reiga get into an argument (again). Reiga tells hims to grow up.

On the Mahava, Gai reports to Indrah. It will take about half a day for the Mahava to catch up to Shulato, so Indrah sends RasetsuTen Nirihari after them.

The heroes fly across the lake toward Shutentou on their Valudas. Shutentou is strange island. The sides are sheer cliffs, several hundred feet high. The only way up, aside fron flying, is a series of stair-like platforms floating near one side.

Shulato is waterskiing behind his Valuda, with Lakshu cheering him on. Hyuga and Ryouma are watching him as if they think he's lost his mind. Reiga is annoyed at his lack of seriousness. Shulato says he shouldn't have to be serious all the time. Finally fed up, Reiga throws a feather, breaking the rope that connected Shulato's board with his Valuda.

Nirihari is watching them from Shutentou. He chants a spell, causing a giant wave. Hyuga and Ryouma are engulfed in it immediately. The others try to run, but the wave catches up with them, too. After that, the wave disappears as suddenly as it appeared.

Lakshu surfaces first (with her hair still in place!), then Reiga. She can't see Shulato anywhere and starts to worry, but soon he floats to the surface. Not the world's best swimmer, apparently. Reiga teases him, and it almost leads to another argument, but they notice that Ryouma and Hyuga are nowhere to be found. Reiga assumes they escaped the wave and are already on the island. He wonders where the wave came from, and thinks he recognized the spell.

Hyuga and Ryouma are flying over the water on the other side of the island. They can't see the others anywhere. Hyuga is worried, but Ryouma is sure they're okay, since Reiga is with them.

Nirihari's spell worked exactly like he wanted. He knew he couldn't take on half the Hachibushu at once, so he used the wave to split them up.

Shulato's group arrives at the stone stairs, but Hyuga and Ryouma aren't there. Reiga says there's no point in waiting for them and tells Shulato to get climbing. He and Lakshu, on the other hand, are going to fly up. Shulato yells that it's not fair (even calling Reiga a he-she!).

Nirihari's spell starts to take effect. Reiga senses it and tries to warn Shulato, but he wasn't fast enough. A stone hand sprouts from the ground and grabs Shulato's foot. Several stone golems appear around him. Reiga starts to go help, but several hands sprout from the cliff wall and attack him. Reiga creates a firebird, which disintegrates the hands, then deposits Lakshu on a ledge and goes to help Shulato.

As Lakshu watches the battle below, red glowing eyes appear behind her. Mii tries to warn her, but she doesn't listen. Nirihari grabs her and disappears.

On the Mahava, no one can understand why Indrah would want to use someone like Nirihari, but Renge insists that Indrah must have his reason. Gai, on the other hand, doesn't care. He's decided that no one will kill Shulato except him.

Reiga and Shulato catch up to Nirihari in a courtyard lined with giant hand statues. Reiga recognizes him as the former captain the Tenkuuden guards. Shulato demands to know what he did with Lakshu and Nirihari gladly shows then- Lakshu is tied up, dangling from the fingers of one of the statues.

Shulato tells him they're innocent, and to everyone's surprise, Nirihari already knows! He knows that Indrah was the real traitor, but he sided with him anyway. Whoever wins determines what's right, and he thinks Indrah will win.

Ryouma and Hyuga arrive at the stairs. They're surprised that the other group isn't there, but they assume they already climbed up to the island. They're about to start climbing, too, when they see stone golems falling from the top of the cliff. They dive into the water to avoid them.

Nirihari knocks Shulato and Reiga to the ground with a Sohma blast, then starts chanting a Rasetsu Meimarou before they can recover. Shulato and Reiga are swallowed up by the the ring of light it created, and disappear.

Shulato awakens to find himself lying under a tree. Gai, dressed in Earth clothes, asks what he's doing there. Shulato bolts to his feet, thinking Gai is about to attack, but he doesn't. Instead, he suggests they cut practice short and go home. Shulato is surprised that Gai has returned to normal, but Gai doesn't know what he's talking about. Gai asks is he's still dreaming, and Shulato figures he must be right. It was all a bad dream, and Gai is still his friend. He starts crying and hugs Gai.

Reiga is walking through a field of gold light. Unlike Shulato, he knows it's just an illusion created by Nirihari, and is determined not to be beaten so easily. Vishnu appears in front of him and thanks him for helping her return to normal. However, Reiga knows it's not real, and the fact that Nirihari would dare to use Vishnu's likeness like that only makes him more angry.

Shulato hugs Gai, saying that he's glad things are the way they always were. Gai agrees, slowly raising his sword. Things are like they always were- they are enemies, just like before.

Reiga takes out his rings and attacks the fake Vishnu, begging the real one for forgiveness. At the same moment, the fake Gai attacks Shulato.

Shulato calls out to Gai. Back on the Mahava, Gai hears him and stops his meditation. Saying that no one will kill Shulato except him, he starts another spell. Gai's spell disrupts Nirihari's, and Reiga realizes who the fake Vishnu really was. Instead of attacking Nirihari, as he thought, he had attacked Shulato!

Nirihari dares him to attack again, saying that there's no way to know who his real target is. Reiga is about to take him up on the offer, but Nirihari reminds him that he has a hostage. Lakshu yells for Reiga not to worry about her and to fight anyway.

Sallas and Mayuri are standing on top of another statue, watching the battle. They're impressed by Lakshu's and Reiga's desire not to see their friends get hurt, but also realize that that desire might get someone killed. Sallas shoots an arrow, breaking the ropes that held Lakshu. Reiga catches her and tells her to go see to Shulato.

Nirihari fires Sohma blasts at Reiga, but he avoids them easily. Eventually, Reiga jumps over Nirihari's head and takes him by surprise, holding the point of a feather against his neck.

Reiga says he won't let Nirihari get away with using the things they hold dear. Nirihari suddenly changes his tune and begs for forgiveness, saying he was tricked by Indrah. Reiga is unsure whether or not to believe him, and Nirihari takes advantage of his hesitation, knocking him into a statue with a Sohma blast.

However, before he can finish Reiga off, Shulato appears behind him, even madder than Reiga was. Shulato deflects Nirihari's blast easily, then fires a Shura Mahaken. By the time it dissipates, all that's left of Nirihari is an extra-large, extra-scorched crater.

Hyuga and Ryouma finally arrive on the scene, having missed the whole battle. Soon after, a dark shadow blocks out the sky. It's the Mahava. They've been found.

They split up, each going to one of the four temples. The warriors on the Mahava also split up. Ryouma and Gai head for Seiryuuden. Hyuga and Renge head for Byakkoden. Reiga and Kuuya head for Suzakuden. Shulato, Lakshu and Dan had for Genbuden.

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